Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Ship Breaker- Paolo Bacigalupi

Synopsis: "Even at night, the wrecks glowed with work. The torch lights flickered, bobbing and moving. Sledge noise rang across the water. Comforting sounds of work and activity, the air tanged with the coal reek of smelters and the salt fresh breeze coming off the water. It was beautiful.
In America’s Gulf Coast region, where grounded oil tankers are being broken down for parts, Nailer, a teenage boy, works the light crew, scavenging for copper wiring just to make quota — and hopefully live to see another day.
But when, by luck or chance, he discovers an exquisite clipper ship beached during a recent hurricane, Nailer faces the most important decision of his life: Strip the ship for all it’s worth or rescue its lone survivor, a beautiful and wealthy girl who could lead him to a better life…"

Real, powerful and completely original. From the moment I started reading this amazing dystopian book, I was struck by just how much the future Bacigalupi has created struck home with me. Especially in light of the Gulf Coast oil spill, and with the move towards green energy, the idea of a future in which fossil fuels have been used up and raging storms have caused massive amounts of flooding across the country, I found that the world Nailer occupies is a frightening, but very real view of where our country, and our world could be headed.
A few times in the novel Nailer refers to the "Accelerated Age", presumably the age we occupy now in which the rate at which technology grows is incredible. However, as can be seen from this book, all things have consequences. New Orleans is shown as a destroyed, completely flooded city, left to rust and rot. The characters in this novel are very real and in some cases, very awful. Nailer's father is abusive and kept me frightened almost the entire novel.
What I liked about this dystopian book is how Nailer isn't trying to change the entire world. He just wanted to save his friend, while at the same time allowing the reader to glimpse this frightening world. I've heard that there might be a sequel or two, and I certainly think, and hope their will be after the ending, which leaves many things about the world unexplored.
I highly recommend this book.

Rating: A

Other Recommended Books: 
Leviathan and Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld
Worldshaker by Richard Harland
Boneshaker by Cherie Priest
The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials by James Dashner


  1. Good to know that this is a powerful book -- I figured it would be pretty good because it won the Printz award, but I always like to hear from a couple of regular readers. This is high up on my stack of soon-to-read books.

  2. I waited a while before buying this one because I too wasn't sure how it would be, but then I saw it won the Printz award and all the good reviews kept piling up and I'm definitely glad to have read it.